On Today’s Walk: Rock Bridge

I’m using up some holiday and vacation leave this week while my oldest kid visits. Thanks to climate change probably, the weather is warm enough for many long walks.

Today we went to Missouri’s Rock Bridge State Park. There were a few other walkers there, but very few. We had most of the wonders to ourselves. Of course, the first thing we had to see was *the* rock bridge for which the park is named.

Rock Bridge
That’s my cohort there in the distance.

Here’s another view of the rock bridge, this one from above:


We made our way down the Devil’s Icebox Cave, but the water was up too high for us to explore it much. We also neglected to bring flashlights.


Next, it was off on the trail that leads to a disused stone grain silo built 100+ years ago. As evidenced by the artwork, plenty of people have been here before us.


I found a friend inside.

Toad
Howdy, friend!

Silo interior
View from inside the silo

A little research told me this festively colored fungus is called fulvifomes robiniae.

Fungus

It is nice to get out of my own neighborhood occasionally. Missouri is a state with a lot of natural beauty, so I don’t have to travel far to find a pleasant hike.

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On Today’s Walk: Talk of Sycamores and Ancient Greek Sculpture

Son the younger, who is currently living with me and the hubs, accompanied me today on my walk. We stopped to marvel at some large American sycamore trees, notable for their size and the fact that the bark sheds off, revealing stunning white wood underneath.


According to the Missouri Botanical Garden site, the American sycamore “is generally regarded to be the most massive tree indigenous to eastern North America. It is a deciduous, usually single-trunk tree that typically grows to 75-100’.” Indeed, I left the houses and cars in two of the photos for scale. The trees looked especially magnificent against the vivid blue, cloudless sky.

I know what you’re wondering about now, dear reader. When does Ancient Greek sculpture come into this story? The answer is, right now.

Son II commented that the peeling bark and white wood reminded him of some articles he’s been reading about statues from Greek antiquity. I learned some things from him during this conversation, notably that for centuries, scholars believed said statues had always been white. However, new scientific examinations reveal traces of pigment ingredients, showing the sculptures had originally been painted.

He also told me he believed from the images he’d seen imagining the original colors were off the mark. He thought artists who were so skilled and took such great care when carving wouldn’t have then made their creation garish. When I came home and looked on the internet, I saw what he meant. But I guess we can’t really know. Still, it’s fascinating to read about how a misconception is being revealed after all this time. Here’s a good article I found. The authors must know about culture, because they use British spellings, right?

Anyway, today’s walk was educational in more ways than one.

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On Today’s Walk: Admonitions

It’s a sunny and slightly brisk fall afternoon, perfect for walking off those Thanksgiving calories. Just make sure you behave yourself while doing so.


Curb your dog

No worries. I don’t even have a dog.


Private property

I’m not sure what prompted the posting of this sign on a quiet residential street, but I kept my distance to take the photo.


Road signs

No worries. I’m not even in a car, so I can’t park. I’m unlikely to exceed 25 mph on foot.


No dumping

I also have nothing with me I can dump. No streams will be polluted due to me.


Sidewalk closed
Don’t even think about it.

I heeded the warning and took an alternate route. I was a model neighbor on this walk.

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On Today’s Walk: Down But Not Out

Tree
Down but not out

This tree is in a park near my house. Maybe someone else can identify the kind for me. I like to think of it as a survivor tree. At some point in the past, it fell over on its side. But did that make it give up? It did not!

It pushed some roots down from one side of its trunk and branches up from the other. It’s thrived like that for years now. I like to visit it for encouragement when things get difficult. It reminds me that life can knock you down, but that doesn’t always mean you can’t survive or even flourish. It reminds me not to give up, but to look for new alternatives, to adapt when faced with changes beyond my control.

Incidentally, the branches on the right side of the photo were propped there by someone recently. There’s a nice space in the middle, the right size to for a small child to sit in. Hmmm.

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On Today’s Walk: Who Goes There?

I was using some vacation hours today to work on a personal writing project, so naturally I took a three-mile walk. I assumed the day’s theme would be fall colors, but assumptions are often wrong. Also, the world around is full of astonishing finds if you pay attention.

First find, two doors down. A new resident in the neighborhood? You can’t tell from the photo, but this figure is BIG. I estimate at least seven feet tall, maybe more.

Yard art
Fee fi fo fum?

This gentleman has a polite request for us:

Be Civil Sign

Whoa, how did these two get trapped here? Was it when the veil parted on Halloween? I nearly walked right over them without noticing! They’re not drawn on. They were put into the original sidewalk design when it was poured as far as I can tell.


I don’t know who Joe and Betty Wood were, but it seems they’re fondly remembered. Hi, Joe and Betty.


And finally, I did see some colors, too. ‘Tis I, Autumn.

Autumn colors

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On Today’s Walk: Arachnid Sighting

Marbled orb weaver

It’s an unusually warm and idyllic day for November, and I have to work. The silver lining is that I get an hour for lunch and live close enough to walk home. I encountered one of nature’s wonders casually crossing the street. The iNaturalist “Seek” app on my phone informed me this critter is a marbled orb weaver spider. I almost said “guy” instead of “critter” because further research revealed that the females tend to stay hidden in piles of leaves, except when retrieving food from their webs. However, even more research tells me the size of this one indicates it’s a female. I’m going with “I don’t know.”

According to the Insect Identification site, these spiders are common in wooded areas near water.Aha! The road I was on runs alongside a park, and the park has a creek running through it. Common or not, it didn’t look familiar to me. Maybe because they’re usually hanging around in the brush and not out on the asphalt. It sure is eye catching, isn’t it? And nothing to worry about. They are neither aggressive nor venomous.

This one was trucking right along and seemed to have an agenda. Whatever its destination, I hope it arrives safely.

On Today’s Walk: Civic Minded Edition

I voted sticker
Got my sticker!

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Today’s walk took me to my polling place, exactly one mile from my house. It was sunny and 48 degrees, perfect voting weather. We have one issue on the ballot — whether to renew a tax that funds some parks and rec projects. My town has a pretty good trail system, but it needs to be expanded into a couple of underserved neighborhoods. Passage would help fund that, in part, as well as possibly reopening a couple of local playgrounds. As is obvious to anyone who reads my blog, I love walking/biking trails and make frequent use of them.

On my way home, I met a new friend. I felt it was another civic duty to engage with them:

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Speaking of civic mindedness, I’m blessed to live in a neighborhood abundant in little free libraries. Here’s one I hadn’t noticed before today:

Little free library

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On This Week’s Walks: Surprises

I’ve been walking, just not making the time to post. So instead of “On Today’s Walk,” I’m doing a small compilation from the past few days. Even when you walk the same routes over and over for years, you’ll still find surprises.

What exactly is happening on this retaining wall? Is this the aftermath of a battle, with the victor standing triumphant? Or is it an act of compassion, with a friend rushing to aid a fallen companion?


Hmmm..what are those two things in the middle of the grass, visible from thirty feet away?

Field
Mystery objects

Maybe a closer investigation is in order:

Two shrooms

Aha! Wow, those are big! How big?

Big fungus
That’s a size 8 1/2 (US) women’s shoe.

And finally: always expected, yet still a surprise with their sudden appearance every year. My first surprise lily sighting of 2021.

Surprise lilies

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On Today’s Walk: Slow and Easy

…we could make like the gentry and stroll at a leisurely pace, enjoying the results of someone else’s manual labor.

It rained here for nearly two solid months. I had forgotten what color the sky is when the clouds are gone. But the weather cleared up and became beautiful with pleasant temps just in time for the long weekend.

Unfortunately, I did something to my back. I woke up yesterday morning barely able to get out of bed and hobble to the bathroom as my muscles groaned, seized, and resisted movement. Things gradually improved after I’d forced myself to move around the house a little, put some ice on my back, and took ibuprofen.

By afternoon, my back felt A-okay. I thought, Well, that was unpleasant, but it’s over with. Guess I’ll go tackle some yard work. Things remained okay through an hour and a half of mowing and more.

Then I woke up this morning, once again barely able to move. I did what I refer to as the Igor Shuffle across my bedroom, pushing one foot forward a few inches, then dragging the other from behind to catch up with it. More ice packs and ibuprofen, combined with slow stretches throughout the day had it feeling mostly better by afternoon. But I learned my lesson. The weeding remains unfinished.

However, I talked my son — who currently has a slightly bum foot and also needs a to move more slowly than usual — into accompanying me on a little outing to Shelter Gardens, where we could make like the gentry and stroll at a leisurely pace, enjoying the results of someone else’s manual labor. I didn’t take many photos, but we found serenity lingering at the fish pond.


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On Today’s Walk: Drainage

When you’re a homeowner in Missouri, you spend a lot of time thinking about water flow and drainage. If you have a basement, you probably have a sump pump. The repeated hummmm-clunk on rainy days is just part of the soundtrack of your life.

I live in one of the oldest parts of our city, old enough that maps of the sewer system in our neighborhood have been lost to history. The municipal government is always going to do something to make sure the sewers are up to snuff around here, but they first have to figure out how they’re all networked. That’s been going on for a while. Once, they even sent someone into our home to blow smoke through our toilet while other workers were stationed at various access holes nearby to see which direction it was traveling. I’m not sure what they learned.

Drainage has been on my mind even more than usual lately because it’s been extremely rainy and also because my husband came up with a new plan for our sump pump drain. It’s always been a puzzle trying to determine the best place for the water to discharge. We had some pipe along the side of the driveway to a French drain at the end, but we share a driveway with an apartment building, and people kept driving over the curb while passing each other and damaging it. Then we’d get leaks that would cause slime in the summer and ice in the winter. After a lot of digging (division of labor roughly 85% spouse / 15% me), a few yards of pipe are now buried, with just the end emerging by the drain. Fingers crossed this will be the final iteration.

Ambling around the neighborhood lately, I’ve been paying attention to drainage pipes and grates. It’s amazing, once you notice it, what a large part of the infrastructure has to do with getting the water to flow a certain direction.